Peninsula Community Church
Displaying the Life Of Christ – Prayers that Get Results
August 19, 2012
In the final moments of John’s writings, we see that John takes a moment to focus on the subject of answered prayer. John Piper, pastor and author, says that “it is amazing to know that the sovereign God of the universe and of all creation has ordained that prayer causes things to happen that would not happen if you did not pray. It is a staggering thought to know that we can affect the course of events and issues of life when we pray.” In fact John Piper continues by saying that “if we do not avail ourselves of prayer and therefore bring about change through our prayers we are foolish.”
Let us read our text together:
1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
The first fact about prayer is that God desires and longs to answer our prayers. God has been referred to as the Father figure. A loving dad does not want to mistreat his children or withhold from them the things they need. Neither does God, the Father. He desires to answer our requests for prayer. This is borne out throughout scripture.
Matthew 7:7-11 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Matthew 18:19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
- Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
- Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
The second fact is that the one who is obedient to God, knows God’s word and desires that His will is done will see answered prayer. If we are rebellious and disregard God’s word and His will God is not obligated to answer our prayers. Too often, we can be guilty of having an entitlement mentality which says that no matter how I act or live I will demand this or that and expect God to give it even though I have not been obedient to him or His word. But God’s answered prayer comes to those whose heart is after God and desires to fulfill His plan. Throughout scripture there is what has been commonly called the “If” and “Then” principle. It simply means that if we obey God’s word then we will receive the reward promised by that word. Now let me issue a word of caution here. The problem with this teaching is that it can lead to legalism and guilt. Legalism is that we do things so that God will do things for us or we do things to put on front or façade when our hearts are far from God. Or we can live in guilt when there is no known sin or shortcoming and yet God chooses to delay the answered prayer. When we love God and we know God’s word these principles should be a supernatural/natural part of our live.
- John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
- 1John 3:21-22 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
- James 5:16B The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
The third fact about prayer is that God is not looking for perfect people but people who are perfectable in prayer. David is one such illustration of this concept. He had blown it big time and yet he was able to offer one of the greatest prayers in the Bible as found in Psalm 51. What God is looking for is humble and teachable hearts where He can do great things.
- Psalm 51:16-17 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
- James 4:6-10 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
The fourth fact is that God’s ways are always greater than our ways and at times His ways go beyond our ability to comprehend or understand. There will be times that we can do everything that we are supposed to. We can pray the right prayers. We can live rightly before God. We can be free of habitual sin. And yet God will choose to answer our prayers in ways we cannot imagine.
- John 9:1-7As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
- John 11:1-4 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
- Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
In the final analysis, God’s desire is to answer our prayers. It is His desire that we pray life changing, event alternating and future transforming prayers for His glory. And at the same time, knowing that the possibility exists that God will do above and beyond what we are able to imagine or ask, for His glory.